These are unprecedented times. Many workers are seeing transformations in their jobs that they would never have predicted in a million years. Supporting them as a human resources manager makes these changes less impactful. Transitioning to a work from home situation, experiencing reduced hours, or being furloughed are all huge changes. Your role is to reduce how these changes affect employees.
With a good strategy, you can make the best of tough circumstances.
Supporting employees and providing them with the tools to still do their jobs is essential. By making an effort to keep the culture strong, you can retain solid morale. With a strong plan, you can lessen the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on your company.
1. Provide solutions to employees
COVID-19 is likely drastically altering how and where employees work. It’s important to make sure they are equipped with all of the tools to help them work effectively. Whether they are transitioning to working from home or working on an alternative schedule, you can help them maintain their productivity and efficiency.
Working remotely can be a challenge for those that haven’t experienced it before. The logistics can be tricky and maintaining a schedule can be difficult. You can support employees by helping them find their working from home routine.
Make sure employees have all of the tools to successfully work remotely. Technology is essential for communication. Consider a program to assist employees in purchasing a laptop through a laptop allowance or payback scheme, if need be. A data allowance could also be considered to assist in providing a stable and reliable internet connection.
Look for applications to keep employees on track. Find a centralised communication and planning tool that all employees can use. This will make collaboration seamless and ensure that no tasks fall through the cracks.
2. Create a safe working environment
Your business may need to remain open during the lockdown. If so, it’s essential that you have a comprehensive plan to create a safe working environment. You’ll need to consider all aspects of your workplace to make sure you keep employees healthy.
You’ll likely need to make some adjustments to ensure that employees have plenty of personal space. Consider ways to rethink and reconfigure workspaces so they have more distance from each other. Adding temporary walls and barriers between employees can provide a safer work environment.
You might simply have too many employees in your space to make social distancing possible. It may take getting creative with scheduling to lower the number of employees that are present at one time. You’ll likely need to create a balance between reduced attendance and maintaining productivity.
Reach out to employees to find out what works best for them. Some may be willing to come in during evenings or weekends instead of their normal shift. You might be able to develop a schedule where employees alternate working from home and coming into the office.
For employees that are coming into work, it’s important to make staying healthy convenient and accessible. Make sanitizing and cleaning products readily available. Consider providing masks for employees that don’t already have them. Encouraging healthy habits like hand-washing and covering coughs can be helpful reminders to keep everyone more germ-free.
3. Keep remote workers engaged
Working from home can create a unique set of challenges. For some employees, they find that they are surprisingly more productive. However, many people feel a disconnect without being able to go to a physical office.
It’s important to develop programs to help keep employees that are working from home engaged. Encouragement and regular communication goes a long way. Letting them know that you still appreciate their virtual presence makes them feel valued, even when they can’t see co-workers daily.
Consider increasing the frequency of reviews during this time. Focus on providing the means to give positive feedback. This increases confidence and prevents remote employees from feeling discouraged.
Develop a schedule for regular check-ins between employees and their managers. Provide guidance and resources to leaders on how to communicate effectively. Make sure they are given the tools to deal with any employee issues and guide them in finding solutions to problems.
4. Promote strong culture and wellness
These can be stressful times for everyone. It’s important to implement a plan that addresses staying healthy. Both physical and mental well-being should be a top priority.
If you don’t already have one, consider starting a program to get employees moving. Fitness challenges can be a great way to promote increased activity. Being physically active not only boosts the immune system, but it also reduces stress.
Mental health is equally, if not more, important. Make sure employees have the resources they need to reduce stress and prevent burnout. Encourage a work-life balance by setting a maximum on the number of hours that employees should be logged in. Consider setting rules like no emailing on the weekend or no conference calls scheduled after 5pm.
Taking breaks throughout the day is essential for productivity. It can be tempting to work non-stop, especially when your office is at home. Make suggestions to employees to step away from their computers and take a walk or grab a snack.
Social well-being is a huge hurdle when in lockdown. Implement creative ways to provide the opportunity for fun communications. Video happy hours or virtual game nights are a great way to kick back and boost morale.
5. Help support furloughed employees
It might not be viable to retain your entire workforce during this time. In the unfortunate event that you have to furlough employees, it’s important to do it with as little impact as possible. Be clear in communications and about your plans for the future.
Don’t add to the stress of being temporarily laid off and make sure employees receive their benefits. Use intuitive programs to seamlessly transition workers to furlough. This will make payroll changes and continuing policies much easier.
Be honest and open about when you anticipate their return to work will be possible. Help guide them in applying for unemployment benefits in the meantime. Be sure to communicate your need for furloughing them and that they are still valuable employees.
During this time of uncertainty, you can stand strong as an HR manager. Many businesses are looking for ways to still operate through this chaotic event. A strong human resources presence will help your company survive and even thrive during this frustrating situation. You can help your company’s employees remain productive and happy so they are even stronger as a whole when life returns to normal.